While Supreme’s FW17 references to Scarface and Nas dominated yesterday’s streetwear headlines, for our metalheads here at Highsnobiety HQ, it was Andres Serrano’s “Blood and Semen” items which piqued the interest. Following today’s launch announcement, we now take a look at more in-depth look at the controversial artist.
That it should take Supreme so long to work with Serrano comes as something of a surprise: after all, these are two modern day cultural sensations whose penchant for the diabolical is a huge part of the attraction. Supreme is the type of brand that wouldn’t think twice about printing a Mark Gonzalez quote like, “I’ve never wanted to piss on someones face more than I want to piss on yours,” on the back of a hoodie, while Serrano’s art has seen him achieve global infamy, most shockingly submerging a photo of Christ in a glass of his own urine back in 1987. “Before sharks swam in formaldehyde, there was Piss Christ,” wrote The Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones. “With this work, Andres Serrano created what is surely the visual manifesto and original prototype of the use of shock in contemporary art.”
“Shock” — that’s the nexus here.
But forget about piss and everything else for a second, for it’s another intersection where the range in question takes its cues: Enter heavy metal music. This culture has long proved a fertile well of inspiration for the Sup, having collaborated with the likes of Slayer, Black Sabbath, Basquiat, Raymond Pettibon and Boris Vallejo in the past. Serrano, meanwhile, would be first tapped by industrial pioneers Godflesh, before moving on to work with the world-conquering Metallica.
After creating The Black Album, one of the biggest selling and most influential metal records of all-time, in 1991, Metallica entered something of an abstract art phase, with Lars Ulrich hoovering up pieces by radical names like Basquiat and Jean Dubuffet (it proved a shrewd move when he resold a single work by the former for some $13.5 million in 2008).
Around this point, Serrano was introduced to the band having impressed guitarist Kirk Hammett with his directorial work for Godflesh (above). For 1995’s Load record, the artist would contribute his Blood and Sperm III artwork (which, to the untrained eye, looks a bit like a bubbling lasagna, but is actually a mixture of cow blood and spunk pressed between plexiglass). He’d repeat the trick two years later for 1997’s ReLoad, this time swapping out sperm for piss.
Just over 20 years on, and Serrano’s artworks are once again at the forefront of modern youth culture, ready to no doubt shock and appall in equal measure. As far as collaborations go, this is one made in heaven. Or should that be hell…